PlayBox Technology Future-Proofs Playout for the Evolving Broadcast Market

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Maintaining its leadership in the field of broadcast playout and channel branding, PlayBox Technology demonstrated the future-proof flexibility of its Neo and CloudAir solutions at IBC Amsterdam mid September and NAB New York mid October.

"People tend to think of technology as progressing in a straight line with each new development making its predecessors obsolete," says PlayBox Technology President Don Ash. "On that basis, printed paper, radio, cine film, television and more recently the internet might each have replaced each other. In reality, new technical developments create new branches of opportunity. For the broadcast industry that means greater choice in the way content can be funded, delivered and viewed.

"Our role is to design and deliver products that give existing and potential customers the freedom to work in whichever way they see as best matching their own business strategies. Some channels like to own and operate their playout and channel branding infrastructure. Others prefer to upload their content to a 24/7 service-provider and control scheduling from a local desktop computer via a secure IP link. Many broadcasters see virtual playout as a way to reduce the cost of programme production and delivery. Virtual playout is technically very elegant. Our CloudAir offering frees channel proprietors from the need to possess, operate and maintain their own hardware. The savings in space and staff overheads can be substantial, especially for a channel located in the centre of a major city.

"Content producers are investing strongly in UHD to maximise the long-term value of their programmes," adds PlayBox Technology's US Director of Operations Van Duke. "If our customers choose to deliver in UHD, PlayBox Neo allow them to handle UHD, HD or SD from a single server. "Some broadcasters and playout companies prefer a combination of the two modes of working. We can supply our Neo and SaaS-basedCloudAir platforms individually or as a hybrid."

Latest addition to the Neo product series is PlayBox Neo TS Time Delay, a 1U IP-based delay server for single or multichannel time zone shift and disaster-recovery applications. A typical Neo TS Time Delay configuration includes zero-delay pass-through for a broadcaster's home-region time zone plus any desired delay ranging from seconds to weeks for a unicast MPEG transport stream. The same unit can simultaneously process a multicast MPEG transport stream with its own playout time settings. A third channel is then available to carry auxiliary data such as UDP. Like all elements of the PlayBox Technology Neo product series, Neo TS Time Delay can operate as a single-unit or be twinned for use in main and backup modes. All operating parameters are easily adjusted via an integral web-based user interface, including channel-specific time delay in 15 second increments. 

New workflow features for other modules in the Neo series include the ability to integrate ProductionAirBox Neo closely with the Associated Press ENPS news production system via MOS gateway. SocialMediaBox Neo gains a new Facebook API implementation with the ability to re-use archived feeds and the display of 'likes' for each post.

Among new CloudAir features introduced this year were a transcoder capable of handling multiple file wrappers and formats including MPEG PS/TS, MXF, QT, AVI, MP4, GXF, MPG2, H.264, ProRes, DNX HD and MJPEG. Also being introduced are an enhanced graphics editor template preparation interface, improved playlist editing, advanced playlist export to EPGs and automated linking of stored assets.